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Is this the tiny house where Daniel Morcombe died?

This small demountable building at Glasshouse Mountains is where, according to police, Daniel Morcombe died.
This small demountable building at Glasshouse Mountains is where, according to police, Daniel Morcombe died.

THE demountable building in which Daniel Morcombe allegedly fought off his would-be molester at Glasshouse Mountains was once accommodation for workers on a tobacco farm.

The building, perched in the shade of a mango tree and near tobacco-drying sheds on Lot 2 at 510 Kings Rd, was no longer needed when the land became a macadamia farm.

Drewe Gowan, who owns Lot 2, told Brisbane Supreme Court the demountable was removed in 2006.

He said the carpet was removed when the demount-able was taken from the property and was later 8buried with other sheds when they were demolished.

Brett Peter Cowan, 44, who is accused of Daniel's murder and indecent treatment, and of interfering with his corpse, allegedly told undercover police officers he tried to molest Daniel in the demountable building and that the schoolboy died during a struggle.

Police excavated a large section of land where the carpet was buried, but no DNA or other relevant mater-ial was located.

Rocco Antonio Venturiello, who owns Lot 1 at 510 Kings Rd, said the land had been in his family since the early 1980s - initially used for sand mining until the early 1990s and then became vacant land.

He said it was still a sand mine but was not operated and he had not farmed or cultivated the area.

Mr Venturiello said there had also been a temporary saw mill and a mobile sandblasting business on the property for a short time.

He said he was abroad during December, 2003, and returned in January, 2004.

Mr Venturiello said there had been significant flooding since then, noting the January, 2011.

Search for Daniel Morcombe at Kings Road, Glasshouse Mountains. Photos: Jason Dougherty
Search for Daniel Morcombe at Kings Road, Glasshouse Mountains. Photos: Jason Dougherty

Glasshouse Mountains farmers testify at Daniel Morcombe murder hearing

THE Glasshouse Mountains farmers who own two lots searched extensively in August and September, 2011, have explained how the land was used where Daniel Morcombe was allegedly murdered and dumped.

Rocco Antonio Venturiello, who owns Lot 1 at 510 Kings Road, said the land had been in his family since the early 1980s - initially used for sand mining until the early 1990s and then became vacant land.

He said it was still a sand mine but was no longer operated and he had not otherwise farmed or cultivated the area.

Mr Venturiello said there had also been a temporary saw mill and a mobile sandblasting business that had used the property for a short time each.

He said he was abroad during December, 2003, and returned in January, 2004.

Mr Venturiello said there had been significant flooding since then, noting the January, 2011, flood was "quite a high one".

Drewe Gowan, who owns Lot 2 at 510 Kings Road, said he farmed macadamia nuts on the land.

He explained there was previously tobacco growing which is why there were tobacco sheds on the property.

Mr Gowan said there was a demountable building used for farmer accommodation when it was a tobacco farm but it was no longer used when it became a macadamia farm.

He said it the carpet was removed when the demountable was removed from the property and later buried with other sheds when they were demolished.

Cowan allegedly told undercover police officers he tried to molest Daniel in that demountable building and that he died during a struggle.

Scientist has no doubt bone was from Daniel Morcombe

AN Adelaide scientist who specialises in ancient DNA has no doubt an upper arm bone he analysed from the Glasshouse Mountains search site belonged to Daniel Morcombe.

Jeremy James Austin, from the University of Adelaide, said the mitochondrial DNA from the bone matched Daniel's mother Denise and his brothers Dean and Bradley.

A muddy shoe believed to belong to Daniel Morcombe.
A muddy shoe believed to belong to Daniel Morcombe.

Dr Austin, who has been extracting mitochondrial DNA from animals and humans for 20 years but has focused on identifying human remains since 2007, said mitochondrial DNA came from the maternal ancestry.

He said it survived longer in poorly preserved remains than nuclear DNA, which was the more common sample analysed in recent deaths.

Dr Austin said the nuclear DNA was individual but with elements from both parents but only mothers could pass on mitochondrial DNA.

He said the latter could be used to compare different individuals to see if they shared the same maternal ancestry.

"One of the real advantages of using mitochondrial DNA is that it tends to survive for a longer period of time in degraded samples … bones and teeth, hair samples," he said.

"We can generally mitochondrial DNA out of those sorts of sample where nuclear DNA either doesn't survive at all or only survives very poorly.

"We can actually get a result where perhaps nuclear testing may fail completely or fail partially."

Dr Austin said he analysed Daniel's arm bone on August 23 and reference blood samples from his family the next day to ensure there was no cross-examination.

"The mitochondrial DNA profile from the bone sample was 100% match to Denise Morcombe and to Denise's other two sons Dean and Bradley Morcombe," he said.

"It's exactly the result we expect if the bones had come from the son of Denise Morcombe."

Dr Austin said there was no Australian database for DNA but there was one in Europe, with 26,000 to 34,5000 samples from all over the world - except Australia.

He said the haplotype of the mitochondrial DNA found in Denise and her sons has not been seen on the European database.

Dr Austin said almost all the sequences in that database have only been seen once, twice or three times

"What that tells us that most mitochondrial DNA haplotypes are rare in the population and very few mitochondrial DNA occur at frequencies above 1%," he said.

Muddy shoes, 17 bones, but no idea exactly how Daniel died

NO cause of death could be established after examining the 17 bones found at Glasshouse Mountains, but forensic pathologist Peter Ellis told the court he believed the bones belonged to Daniel Morcombe.

He said searchers found the left and right upper arm bones, left shoulder blade, one of the bones from a right forearm, parts of the left and right pelvis, the left and right thigh and shin bones as well as five vertebrae from the lower back.

Mr Ellis said they also found some pieces that looked "a little bit like rib" but it was difficult to confirm.

"The arm bones and leg bones that I described tend to be fairly long and they were still intact," he said.

"But the ends were not complete because they're still growing bones, the end tend to be soft and tend to degenerate very quickly.

"The surface of the bones themselves were fairly dry as you would expect from bones in the ground for quite some time.

"Some of them showed very small marks, one could describe as scratches."

Mr Ellis said, from his observations, the marks looked like they came from animal teeth but they could have come from excavation tools touching the bones during the search.

He said he did not think any vertebrae were complete but noted there was no flesh on any bones.

"There were no duplicates," he said.

"That very strongly suggests there is only one person.

"It was our opinion that all the bones were Daniel Morcombe."

Defence barrister Angus Edwards asked Mr Ellis about airway compression leading to death, questioning what might happen in a struggle situation.

His client Brett Cowan told undercover police officers Daniel died when he grabbed him around the neck to stop him escaping.

Mr Ellis said if one's airway was blocked then they could lose consciousness "very quickly".

He said if the person was not expecting it and then fought it, they would lose consciousness even more quickly.

"After the flow of oxygenated blood to the brain reduces or stops, it is usually about four minutes before irreversible damage occurs," he said.

A photo submitted as evidence in court showing where Daniel Morcombe's shoe was allegedly found in the Glasshouse Mountains area.
A photo submitted as evidence in court showing where Daniel Morcombe's shoe was allegedly found in the Glasshouse Mountains area.

"Once you get irreversible brain damage … (and) the interruption of oxygen supply persists then death will occur in a small number of minutes."

When asked what could cause a crack or clicking noise, Mr Ellis said the only thing he could think of was that the force around the neck was so much that it broke the spine.

Mr Ellis said a chokehold could break the thyroid cartilage, which is the voice box, which could cause damage to the airway.

"In a child of Daniel's age they would be very soft. They wouldn't break easily," he said.
 

A police photograph showing where the shoe of Daniel Morcombe was found in the Glasshouse Mountains.
A police photograph showing where the shoe of Daniel Morcombe was found in the Glasshouse Mountains.

SES searcher tells of moment Daniel Morcombe shoe found

THE SES searcher who found the first of two Globe shoes now believed to belong to Daniel Morcombe has told a court he was searching near an area known as the "mud pit".

Ross Donald Tennessee said he had on full personal protective gear including gloves and glasses.

"In the course of the search, about two feet in front of me, I saw what appeared to be a sand shoe sticking out of the ground," he said.

"I moved back a little bit as police officer came and had a look at it.

"Police came and taped up the area right away, so as not to contaminate it."

Earlier the court heard, SES volunteers were shoulder to shoulder on their hands and knees using small garden implements to search for Daniel's remains.

Photos of the search area at the end of Kings Road at Glasshouse Mountains show a dense layer of pine needles and leaves surrounded by lantana, small trees and bushes.

There is a ladder down the steep embankment and then wooden pallets leading to the muddy search area.

Sunshine Coast police inspector Arthur Van Panhuis described the search as "exceptionally intensive" involving excavations, police divers, cadaver dogs and metal detectors.

He said special sieves were made to go through the 500 cubic metres of sand that was removed.

Mr Van Panhuis said there were sandbags and pumps to get rid of water in the area, with all the mud searched using sieves.

He said there had been a foot search of the nearby macadamia nut farm and specialists had searched a well on the property.

Mr Van Panhuis police had sought expert advice from a water science professor and Sunshine Coast Council's senior hydrologist to determine how deep they needed to search.

He said the objective was to search the land to the level they believed it would have been in 2003 and a little lower.

Mr Van Panhuis said they searched to 10-15cm at the first entry point but closer to a berm, where sand had broken through the wall, searchers went down 80cm to a metre.

He said they searched all the way up to Coochin Creek but not the same intensity as the initial areas.

Mr Van Panhuis said a right Globe shoe was found at 2.25pm on August 17, 2011, between a small body of water and the embankment.

After SES volunteer Ross Donald Tennessee found the shoe, the search ceased and the shoe was photographed, cleaned and examined.

Early photos at the site show a barely recognisable mud-encrusted shoe but later, after cleaning in Brisbane, a brown Globe shoe is clearly visible.

The court heard a left Globe shoe was found on August 20 and later that same day, the first of 17 human bones found up to September 9.

Mr Van Panhuis said they excavated a section of land near the tobacco drying shed on a macadamia nut farm on Kings Road on August 30.

He said that was the area where a demountable building, where Brett Peter Cowan said he taken Daniel Morcombe to molest him, once sat.

Mr Van Panhuis said the carpet from the building had been removed and buried at the site but nothing had come from that excavation.

Under cross-examination from defence barrister Angus Edwards, Mr Van Panhuis said searchers did not find anything of interest in the area Mr Cowan had indicated he left Daniel.

The court heard there was evidence of wild dogs and goannas in the area as well as a fox den.

The den was excavated but no items of interest located.

Topics:  bruce and denise morcombe, daniel morcombe, daniel morcombe foundation, editors picks, search



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